10 Ways SEO for Small Business Has Changed in 2016

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The supreme value of SEO was, arguably, fully realized in 2015, with marketers scrambling to get their content on the first page of Google and keep up with the search engine juggernaut’s ever-changing algorithms. In the United States alone, some 12 billion web searches occur each month, many of which revolve around product research and other shopping activities. The same is true of mobile device searches, as 50 percent of such searches concern “local” results and 61 percent of those searches end in a purchase.

What does this mean for the average small business?

Let’s review how SEO is changing small business marketing campaigns:

#1: Increased Social Media Use

Social media is playing an increasingly prominent role in marketing. It’s a very cost-effective tactic for startups and other small business without a huge marketing budget, since social media platforms are free and gaining more prominence in terms of SERPS. More than 70 percent of marketers already use social media to bolster SEO efforts, and marketers are doing anything they can to have tweets and Facebook posts rank higher on SERPS.

Web and social media marketing strategies will subsequently come together in a giant SEO melting pot, as more social media content is being indexed by Google, Bing, and Yahoo. Small businesses need to review their most valuable social media content and optimize it for visibility purposes.

#2: Mobile Device Optimization Becomes Essential

In 2016, even the smallest business with a web presence has to optimize its site and all other content for mobile devices. The total number of mobile device searches has increased year-over-year by 43 percent, with four out of five smartphone users relying on their mobile devices to shop. More than 1.2 billion people use their mobile devices to go online, and 70 percent of mobile searches result in “action,” such as the purchasing of a product, within one hour.

Additional statistics regarding mobile device usage include the fact that global mobile traffic currently accounts for 15 percent of all internet traffic. Moreover, 95 percent of smartphone users rely on their devices to search for local information, such as nearby restaurants, specialty stores, and more. These numbers make the necessity of optimizing content for mobile users very clear, no matter a business’s size.

#3: Mobile App Popularity Continues to Grow

According to recent research, 89 percent of mobile time is spent on apps. Small businesses should consider creating their own apps, as more and more people are choosing native mobile apps over websites. Brand names must be part of app names, and links to apps need to work correctly so small businesses can enjoy higher search engine rankings. App optimization is, therefore, key to any SEO marketing strategy.

#4: Videos Are Still Major

It’s common knowledge that videos are a key tool for engaging an audience. However, the fact that videos help improve SERP page rankings isn’t as well known. Videos account for 62 percent of worldwide Google searches, and Google is now paying attention to blended searches and results. Videos enjoy 50 times better organic page ranks on Google compared to “static” text results, and receive a 41 percent higher click-through rate, again compared to static results. Adding videos to marketing strategy is therefore highly recommended.

#5: Voice Search Function is Very Necessary

Voice search is a popular option due to its convenience and security, particularly when driving or otherwise engaged. Microsoft, Google, and Apple all feature voice-responsive assistants, or Cortana, Google Now and Siri, respectively. There’s even a voice-ordering feature for Domino’s Pizza.

When creating a voice search function, it’s important to ensure content is searchable via long-tail keywords, which are used much more often in voice searches than typical keywords. Most searches involve asking for directions according to Google, while other searches occur while watching television, when spending time with friends, and while cooking.

#6: Link Building is Always Helpful

Link building is still a key SEO tool, though only in its purest, most organic form. Google has no issue punishing sites that get too link-happy, as it’s considered a black-hat tactic that does nothing to improve content or pique consumer interest. However, old-fashioned link building remains an excellent way to increase brand awareness and site visibility.

#7: Local SEO More Important Than Ever

Local SEO continues to thrive as an important marketing trend, especially in light of Google’s ‘Pigeon’ update, which mandated that businesses focus on local tangents. Local searches account for 50 percent of same or next-day store visits, and more than 60 percent of consumers use local information from ads.

#8: Interactive Content Takes Center Stage

Interactive infographics, online quizzes, white papers, and microsites are among the content increasingly used to drive traffic, engage consumers, and drive conversions. Even the smallest business can throw out the occasional quiz or infographic to keep target audiences interested.

#9: Google’s Algorithm Updates Are as Vital as Ever

Staying abreast of Google’s algorithm updates, and using them accordingly, is an SEO measure that’s gained considerable prominence over the past year. The aforementioned Penguin, as well as Hummingbird, Panda, and Pirate, are among the available options, as is the Mobile Friendly Update. The mobile option is designed to enhance mobile pages in the search engine’s mobile search results.

#10: Content Aggregation is Only Getting Bigger

Content aggregation is considered a hands-on option for finding, consolidating, sharing, and displaying content, so it appeals to a target demographic. If content aggregation is part of a business plan, it’s important to ensure said content is collected from a wide range of credible sources. It’s also important to display content in one place, such as a new blog post or newsletter, to establish business legitimacy. Inbound.org is one example of content aggregation, as it was created by Hubspot and Moz to expand their reach.

A solid social media presence, engaging videos, and useful brand apps are among the many ways SEO is changing how small businesses cater to their audiences. The more refined a business’s SEO strategy, the more success it will enjoy.

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